Tuesday, 15 April 2014

My 'CodeFirst: Girls' day out at Google Campus.

A day in London is a day well spent.

On Saturday the 12th of April I spent a very exciting day in London.

I attended the 'Hacking Your Career' event by CodeFirst: Girls; a programme co-founded by Alice Bentinck that fantastically teaches female graduates with non-technical degrees how to code. 

I am taught both hardware and software coding as part of my degree, so I did not fall in the category of the type of females initiated into the CodeFirst: Girls programme. Still, it was an enlightening opportunity to hear about the exciting projects that are happening in the technology sector and the tech start-up scene in London. 

Fittingly so, the event was held near the Silicon Roundabout. It is considered the epicentre of start-up technology innovation right now. Situated between Old Street, Shoreditch and Hoxton, tech start-ups and people wanting to change the world, with code and creativity, flock to this area of London. The technical prowess and raw ambitiousness of America's Silicon Valley is firmly rooted in these parts of London's city streets.

It took me over an over by train to get to Old Street. With so many exciting things to see in this area of London, I came well prepared with my camera to take some shots.

A few minutes walk from the iconic Silicon Roundabout are the unassuming back alleys where the venue of the CodeFirst: Girls event took place. In the most unassuming of buildings, I arrived at my destination - Google Campus London.

Google Campus is a London workspace area for upcoming tech start-ups. The 'Googler' interiors, kooky as they are, gave a very quirky and playful environment for this otherwise informative technology conference.

Black pellet boxes as shelving held knik-knacks in the Google Campus entrance area.

The event was 10:00-17:00 and  all of us were scheduled for talks that really covered a spectrum of topics such as demystifying how to get a job in a tech start-up and how to start your own. This may seem an interesting topic, especially pitching this to females who are not taking nor had taken degrees related to computer science or engineering. However, this shows the boldness of CodeFirst: Girls and ambition in their service to transform females from a non-technical background, into software developers in some of the most exciting tech start-ups in the country. They showed evidence of this; one of their speakers in the panel talks told her story of completing  CodeFirst: Girls part-time programme to now working as a junior software developer for a London tech start-up.

We were really treated to a range of company and tech start-up representatives. From Facebook, Meyril Lynch Bank of America, Pivotal Labs, Unruly Media, Decoded, and Droplet to name a few. Additionally, the I felt we were given golden advice from tech start-ups currently making their mark in the London start-up scene. Alice used the conference to showcase three business from her other co-founded business, Entrepreneur First. Representatives from three start-ups from the accelerator programme, Spacious, Befittd, and Sparrho, shared their experiences of climbing the career jungle-gym of the London tech start-up scene. As I intently listened to these inspiring people and other speakers during the day, it made me believe that life in the 'real world' after graduation can still be an exciting and rewarding place. 

The empty stage before the event began.
There have been frequent occasions where my female friends express how fortunate I am to have to be taught the coding and hardware skills in my degree. Many feel that learning how to code was an opportunity not made aware to them. Or even when made aware, they believe that it takes a substantial about of time to become good or confident in their ability to work with the most experienced of developers.

It takes a lot of courage to change your profession after graduation, especially where the skills taught are of no extension to your degree. CodeFirst: Girls has rightfully given females who have made this decision, the chance to attain the skills to qualify for jobs that their degrees have not equipped them to have. Females are currently underrepresented as technical developers in the tech industry. CodeFirst: Girls could potentially produce the next successful females in tech who graduated with non-technical degrees. Such an achievement should be commended.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day, and my notebook is packed with excited scribbles of quotes and summarised advice from the array of speakers at the event. The impressionable, accomplished, and intelligent female university students and graduates I met, who made up the majority of the audience, are a force to be reckoned with. They seemed enthusiastic about the tech industry due to the event, and I would not be surprised if they end up founding their own tech start-ups or working as tech developers in companies/start-ups in the future.

So girls, if you are reading this and thinking, 'I want to get involved in tech but my degree does not fit the bill...' (or along those lines), then how about considering contacting CodeFirst: Girls or other programmes of the like? Think of it like a law conversion course, but for technology.

So guys, if you are reading this and also thinking, 'I want to get involved in tech but my degree does not fit the bill...' (or along those lines), then CodeFirst: Girls or other programmes that are solely focused on female development are not for you - but similar programmes exist. If you would like to learn how to code quickly with a mentoring environment, check Decoded. Alternatively, websites like Code Academy is free and has a learn-by-doing approach to teaching front-end code.

Overall, get inspired. This video shown at the CodeFirst: Girls event, were one of the diverse selection of mediums used to inspired the audience.

The UK Hour of Code video.

CodeFirst: Girls held a Hackathon the next day but I had plans of hosting a film-afternoon with my a friend. She is studying to become a lawyer and she needed the break!

Right now, I am packing for my Easter away-break. Tomorrow I wave goodbye to England and say hello to Germany. The excitement has not kicked-in just yet, it will probably settle in when I wake up tomorrow.

That being in mind, this blog shall become 'new-blogpost-less' for the next couple of days. Have a good rest of the week!

All photos taken by me. 

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